An unknown herb caused spinach eaters to hallucinate. Greens were called.
More than 114 people in Australia in four states have reported adverse side effects after eating infected spinach items, according to a Washington Post tally of state figures Sunday. Health officials have warned consumers not to eat the recalled spinach products, which can cause symptoms including delirium, confusion, hallucinations, dilated pupils, rapid heartbeat, facial flushing, blurred vision, and dry mouth and skin. Authorities in Victoria state said clinical symptoms also included slurred speech, nausea and vomiting.
“I feel like my body was moving when it wasn’t,” said Pratima Kavli, 30, who said she experienced hallucinations, confusion, and experienced full-body numbness after eating seven ounces of cooked spinach on Tuesday.
Kavli said it Symptoms began 10 to 15 minutes after she ate the spinach, which she bought at Costco in the Australian capital, Canberra. “I feel dizzy, and I need someone to hold me to stand and support me to walk,” she recalls, adding that she was unable to drink a glass of water without spilling it, and once fell to the floor thinking she was in bed.
She added, “At that moment, I feel like I have a kind of drug that makes your body numb and you can’t feel anything.” She reported other temporary symptoms, including dry mouth, blurred vision, and difficulty breathing. “Strange vibes. It sounds funny, but it wasn’t,” she said.
Victorian state health officials said symptoms usually occur “within hours” of eating contaminated spinach but did not report how long they lasted.
Some patients are still sick more than 24 hours after the onset of their symptoms, Darren Roberts, medical director of the NSW Poisons Information Centre, told the Sydney Morning Herald, adding: “Patients who were completely fine got to this point of hallucinations. observable where they see things that are not there.”
It was not immediately clear from which farm the spinach product consumed by Kavli and other affected people originated, but Food Standards Australia New Zealand, which is coordinating the recall, said in a statement posted on its website that “there is likely a single source of the contamination.” The strain of the contaminated plant, which was sent to laboratories for testing, has not been identified by health authorities.
Health officials identified 13 spinach products — sold under four brands — that consumers were advised not to eat and to return to the place of purchase for a full refund. Among the potentially unsafe products are Woolworth’s Cobb Chicken Salad and Coles Kitchen Smoky Mexican Salad marked with “use by” dates labels, food health agents warn.
According to a statement from Rivera Farms, a spinach grower included in the recall, the contaminated vegetables were grown on a farm in Victoria where they appear to have been “contaminated with an herb that could have health consequences if consumed.”
Rivera Farms said it has notified customers in its supply chain to recall the products. “Rivera Farms can confirm that Thursday and Friday we communicated with all 20 of our baby spinach customers by phone, in writing, or both,” a spokesperson for Rivera Farms said in a statement. Saturday statement posted on the farmer’s website.
Food recall – Riviera Fresh Pty Ltd is recalling Riviera Farms Baby Spinach 350g and 1kg (all use by dates 16th December 2022 to 28th December 2022) due to potential contamination with unsafe plant material. Check out our website: https://t.co/WtT7u4n2k8 pic.twitter.com/v0l2o81bX6
– FoodStandardsAusNZ (@FSANZnews) December 16, 2022
The majority of reported cases have been in the state of New South Wales, where health officials said in a statement on Saturday that 88 people had reported symptoms after eating spinach, including at least 33 who had sought medical attention. In Queensland, 26 people had reported their symptoms to a state poison center by Sunday.
In Victoria, health officials said clinical symptoms presented by consumers of spinach products were indicative of anticholinergic syndrome.
According to clinical guidelines published by the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, the syndrome can be triggered by accidental ingestion of anticholinergic agents, including nightshades (Atropa belladonna) and Jameson grass, mandrake root, lupine beans, and angel’s trumpet.
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